Tag Archives: Twitter

Social Media: Where Does It Belong?

As part of a continuing series for the ACA – Association of Canadian Advertisers, the following post offers an ‘enterprise view’ of how to organize for social media. For the most part, advertisers are keely aware that any customer-facing activity does not fall exclusively within the domain of a singular function, department or business discipline. Indeed, the cross-enterprise approach is often the only way to provide a consistent delivery of customer value and in turn get feedback on performance.  This also avoids one of the most dangerous of obstacles that inhibits business  transformation…

To read on, please go to:

http://www.acaweb.ca/en/social-media-where-does-it-belong/

En Francais:

http://www.acaweb.ca/fr/qui-controle-les-medias-sociaux/

– Ted Morris

The Social Maze

Where are all my customers?

 The funny thing about all the endless advocacy of social media is that nothing has really changed in the business of matching consumers with brands. Oh sure, now that consumers ‘control the brand’, companies are at the mercy of infantile twittering tantrums such  as when consumers don’t get their way (especially on an airline) hoping to unleash a social firestorm primarily with the hope of getting noticed for a nanosecond or two. (The same folks likely get back on the same airline, content to collect their frequent flyer points.) 

One would think, with all those folks splaying their private lives out in public via the likes of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare – lest we forget this thing called a phonebook or the science of geodemographics and credit card purchase data – that people would be easy to find. In fact, with all of the yottabytes of data out there about consumers, it should, in the year 2010, be a matter of running an algorithm or two to find customers, understand preferences and match any product or offer with any consumer 24/7 in any country with high Internet penetration.  It would be the end to the need to advertise using traditional channels.

Funny indeed. The search and storage/processing technology required to make the social web possible has, as the main output, data. Whether you call it media or content it’s still really just more data taking up space on some distant server farm deep in the Mariana Trench. As such, are we all the wiser? Not really. With free cloud apps having a shelf life not much longer that the vegetables in your local supermarket, many are wary of the risks of implementing something that will be obsolete by the time it gets traction in the marketplace. With the yet to be proven value of social media monitoring and analytics, it’s not as if the world has abandoned representative random sampling or in-market product trials.  

Do companies really have the strategies, skill sets or business processes to effectively leverage the social web? With only $2 billion slated for social media spending in the USA this year, I doubt it. Yet, evangelists are forever hopeful, as that is their stock in trade. Like Charles Revson, founder of Revlon once said, “In the factory we make cosmetics; in the store we sell hope.”  

On the other hand, Charles Revson didn’t have social networks at his disposal but his customers had no trouble finding the Revlon counter.  

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Data: The New Capital of the Digital Age

Data: The New Green

The Economist recently ran a special report on managing information that prompted some thinking. First, some big numbers from the report: Wal-Mart handles over 1 million sales transactions per hour. Facebook houses some 40 billion photos (after only 4 years of operation). Cisco estimates that Internet traffic will reach 667 exabytes by 2013.

 With some 60 million people on Twitter, according to comScore data (November 2009), there are roughly 10 million tweets a day. This doesn’t account for the content – characters, photos, articles and video content. I also found that YouTube has generated more video content than all of the television networks combined have ever generated. The current upload rate is equivalent to about 100,000 Hollywood movies being made on a monthly basis. Finally, almost 100 trillion e-mails were sent in 2009.  

Bringing this a bit closer to home, consider the number of daily transactions that take place for banking, air travel, credit card processing, phone calls and e-commerce. You end up with some very large numbers indeed. This data also says a lot about how we behave. Most intriguing perhaps is what it can tell us, through the use of complex algorithms, how we might behave at some future point in time – and where new business opportunity may dwell.  

This growth in the information industry is not reflective of recessionary times. It points to a shift in investment, new business models, the laying of new infrastructure (servers, storage, cloud computing, software) and global workforce expansion in business information. It’s also transformational as the CIO’s role is increasingly one of contributing directly to business growth in contrast to the dogmatic notion of keeping the lights on in the boiler rooms of Enterprise Resource Planning and Supply Chain Management.  

It’s the effect of the peta, exa and yottabyte world that is most intriguing. Conventional ways to sense and understand consumer behaviour  will be challenged by the new wave of business analytics. Marketing research is but one example. If predictive analytics can do a better job of identifying which category of SKU’s is trending upward or which meal combo is gaining favour, what will marketing research be used for? Data analytics can also be used to generate new ideas for services, products and as importantly, help companies shed under-performing assets and balance inventories. By implication, there is a clear line of sight to the financial payback as firms like Amazon and Marriott have learned.  

This point from the Economist is worth noting:  

“…all these data are turning the social sciences upside down, he [Sinan Aral, NYU] explains. Researchers are now able to understand human behaviour at the population level rather than the individual level.”  

It’s no wonder Big Tech (IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP etc.) is loading up on search, storage and processing capability. In exchange they will reap new profits from the digital age, largely unnoticed from behind the curtain of social networks and online store fronts.   

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM  

Social Networks: The Unseen Dangers

SOCIAL NETWORKS: THE #1 MALWARE SOURCE – Last year, I predicted that the web was the battleground and social networks would get ugly. Both those predictions proved true. This year’s threat is no different – just more specific. Social networks have in fact become so ugly that they will be the #1 source of malware infections. Why? Nielsen Online says social networks have become more popular communication tools than email. Also, social networks by their very nature are gathering places, which tends to imply increased levels of trust. Finally, social networks leverage complex, Web 2.0 technologies that can suffer serious security vulnerabilities. When you add those factors together, it’s no wonder that social networks will become to malware what email used to be to the virus; the #1 source of infection.Corey Nachreiner, WatchGuard® Senior Security Analyst, CISSP www.watchguard.com

I spent a few years working for a technology services company that provided online detection of various forms of malware that posed a security and privacy threat to both consumers and business. Some of the work spanned various industries such as financial institutions and insurance companies as well as law enforcement agencies to detect fraud, counterfeiting and cybercrime in general. This was well before Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter became universal social networking platforms. Clearly the problem is much worse today as underscored by the above quote.

One thing that users seem to be oblivious to, whether they be business managers or consumers, is that social networks are cloud computing applications. They sit out on the Internet, a relatively open and unsecure environment where all types of predators lurk – identity thieves, terrorists and scam artists. Their ‘corporate’ vision and mission is carried out with the sole intent of stealing your identity, emptying your bank account and infecting your IT system with malware and harmful viruses, all without a shred of moral fibre or social conciousness. Beneath the surface are some very social criminals that want to be your ‘friend’ in a most unwarranted way.

It is unfortunate that social networks platforms do not, as a rule, provide disclaimers or warnings for people before they sign on. While the premise of ‘friending’ or ‘following’ people is innocent enough, there is little in the way that protects people from the possibility of online identity theft, fraud or in the worst cases, stalking and surveillance. The most egregious cases come from those who arrogantly declare privacy as a thing of the past, knowing full well that those who profit most are those who engage in online criminal activity.

It’s not surprising that many business are reluctant to take up social networking platforms. These software applications, mostly free, do not have the security safeguards that would prevent unwarranted intrusions into an enterprise’s data bases or email systems containing confidential and proprietary information. Security Solutions is one of the fastest growing areas of IT services and a facet of corporate governance that has taken on strategic importance in the digital age. As much as social networks have seen incredible growth in the past 5 years, so has online fraud. Concurrent with this has been the growth in security solutions such anti-malware applications, vulnerability assessment and penetration testing.

At some point, marketers and social media advocates need to wake up and understand the risks inherent in open and unsecure software systems. In doing so, they might be a bit more successful in moving their social media agenda forward. The responsibility to ensure that consumers are well out of harm’s way needs to be a serious consideration.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

(Cross-posted at http://www.cloudave.com)

Social Media is a Croc

There’s an awful lot of chit chat on social media networks about Apple’s latest product – the iPad. This is yet another successful product launch and continued revolution that Apple is leading in bringing new technology appliances to the consumer marketplace. It’s absolutely stunning that Apple doesn’t spend a cent on social media yet has garnered an enormous amount of publicity (admittedly good and bad) from people who just can’t help talking about Apple products on the social web. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why Apple doesn’t spend any money advertising on social networks – all of the publicity through Word-of-Mouth from those who desire, own and love to talk about Apple’s products is FREE anyway.

By the way, anyone who purchased Apple shares a few years ago would have made enough money to fund their iApple desires for the next decade…

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

HBR – The Social Media Bubble: Opinion

Umair Haque, Director of Havas Media Lab, recently posted a thought piece in the Harvard Business Review .

In general, Haque hypothesizes that Social Media doesn’t really connect people but instead, creates the semblance of relationships. Haque states, Social Media is ” largely home to weak, artificial connections, what I call thin relationships.”  He goes on to say “Today, ‘social’ media is trading in low-quality connections — linkages that are unlikely to yield meaningful, lasting relationships.”  Here are my own observations relating to some of Haque’s supporting points.

Truth: If we take social media at face value, the number of friends in the world has gone up a hundredfold. But have we seen an accompanying rise in trust? I’d argue no.

Agreed. In fact the word ‘friend’ is used very loosely in the social media vernacular. To me, a friend is someone that I know and trust. Most of us have about 5 real friends in our lives whom we trust implicitly. The rest are aquaintances, people that we are tied to loosely via circumstance like work, associations, clubs or…Facebook and Twitter. What we have seen a rise in is conversation amongst relative strangers under the pretense of ‘friending’. Caveat Eggshell.

Disempowerment:  If social tools were creating real economic gains, we’d expect to see a substitution effect. They’d replace — disintermediate — yesterday’s gatekeepers. Yet, increasingly, they are empowering gatekeepers.

It’s been notable that service providers such as PR agencies, advertising agencies and media consultancies have been vying for ownership of social media within the advertiser domain re. client side of business. They advocate the social media imperative, are evangelical in their style of persuasion and purport to offer social media “ROI”. They fall short by ignoring the element of accountability – something ingrained in traditional media. There is however, substitution in the form of reallocating traditional media dollars to digital. In this regard though, the financial equation is incomplete: digital is cheaper but the material business benefits are elusive. Quantified returns, in management accounting terms, are a work in progress.

Value: The ultimate proof’s in the pudding. If the “relationships” created on today’s Internet were valuable, perhaps people (or advertisers) might pay for the opportunity to enjoy them. Yet, few, if any, do — anywhere, ever. .. I can swap bits with pseudo-strangers at any number of sites. “Friends” like that are a commodity — not a valuable, unique good.

This is a tough one. Social Media is increasingly seen as a near free channel or pipe to deliver content, customer service and promotional offers. It’s also cheap in the sense that it has the capacity to diminish the value of fact-based, expert content while simultaneously encouraging the rise of ill-founded, non fact-based crowdsourced opinion. In this context, success is all too often gauged in purely quantitative terms (# of fans or followers) rather than say, degree of loyalty/willingness to recommend. In a similar vein, it is problematic to prove that people are who they say they are in the world of social networks, as many use avatars to represent themselves. If something is a known unknown then how does one ascribe value? 

There also exists an element of social media that is redundant, maybe superfluous, in terms its effect (non-effect?) on consumers. For many brands, the franchise is well entrenched (Tide, McDonald’s, BMW, Wal-Mart and of course, Apple) and the principles of The Discipline of Market Leaders are in place. These same brands already have meaningful relationships and established trust with consumers pre-Internet. Social Media is not about to change this any time soon, though to some, it may appear that way.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

(Cross-posted at Cloud Ave and reprinted by IBM Business Insight Blog)

Forrester’s Latest on CRM Trends:Opinion

Forrester Research has recently released it’s 2010  perspective on CRM. William Band, the lead analyst, prefaces the report by asking “As the economy recovers, what are the key trends that will drive customer relationship management (CRM) strategies and technology adoption in 2010?”

Here are my own observations on some of Forrester’s 11 key trends:

Trend #1) Companies return to investing in their most important asset — customers: This should never stop but credit to those who realize the importance of this vital asset. By re-orienting the enterprise back to the customer, companies will be able to sense and response to emerging wants and needs in period of tremendous upheaval in the marketplace. Various aspects of the web that affect the way consumers shop for and purchase will translate in to changes across all customer-facing touchpoints of the enterprise and filter back to the supply chain.

Trend #4) Social CRM hype reaches a crescendo, but projects remain in pilot mode: Makes sense as sCRM technology has outpaced the CMO’s ability to absorb and understand the business utility of a wide variety of applications.  For example, FourSquare, while it has intriguing possiblities for retailers, is only at the stage where some (mainly coffee shops) are offering discounts on product. Companies, such as Ford Motor Company, have seen promising results with viral campaigns, notably a significant number of pre-orders in the US market for the soon-to-be-launched Fiesta.  At the other end of the spectrum, few companies have been able to derive clear benefits from Social Networks such as Facebook, other than having a web presence. 

Trend #5) Customer service embraces real-time methods: This is a huge opportunity as it will generate two clear deliverables for the business case – reduce costs of customer service delivery and drive down cycle time to problem resolution. This trend falls in the category of ‘quick hit’ as it takes little effort to set up extension of the customer service function on Twitter and conversation can take place in real time. Additionally, it has the potential to offload contact centre traffic and deliver the added beneft of broadening the customer’s touchpoint options for contacting the enterprise for service/product queries.

Trend #8) Mobile CRM becomes a must-have capability: This may be the jewel in the crown. Not surprisingly, the travel industry has been quick to embrace this technology, as it has been at the forefront of self-serve for some time re. airline check-in kiosk at the airport, via desktop or mobile device. Hilton Hotels, for example, has rolled out mobile apps that enable guests to manage their reservation status remotely, use the GPS function to search for hotels, order special services while en route or check their frequent stay points balance while travelling. I call this “being able to take your brand with you anywhere you go” CRM.

Trend #10) Scrutiny of business cases remains intense: As it should. With some much in front of the CMO these days, the range of possibilities is intensely confusing. I believe that this is one of the main obstacles to adoption, early or otherwise, as too many people advocate one technology solution over another without providing the necessary guidance to client companies. What is needed are clear strategy and process roadmaps with an eye to benefits and outcomes rather than an obsessive (and futile) focus on ROI. Until such time, piloting projects will remain the order of the day rather implementing cross-enterprise processes and technologies that support the business transformation.

Thanks to the Forrester team for prompting this dialogue on CRM.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM